Author: Amy Chua
Published by: Minotaur Books on Sep. 19, 2023
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Format: eBook, Paperback
Source: Minotaur Books
Book Rating: 8.5/10
Amy Chua’s debut novel, The Golden Gate, is a sweeping, evocative, and compelling historical thriller that paints a vibrant portrait of a California buffeted by the turbulent crosswinds of a world at war and a society about to undergo massive change.
In Berkeley, California, in 1944, Homicide Detective Al Sullivan has just left the swanky Claremont Hotel after a drink in the bar when a presidential candidate is assassinated in one of the rooms upstairs. A rich industrialist with enemies among the anarchist factions on the far left, Walter Wilkinson could have been targeted by any number of groups. But strangely, Sullivan’s investigation brings up the specter of another tragedy at the Claremont, ten years the death of seven-year-old Iris Stafford, a member of the Bainbridge family, one of the wealthiest in all of San Francisco. Some say she haunts the Claremont still.
The many threads of the case keep leading Sullivan back to the three remaining Bainbridge heiresses, now Iris’s sister, Isabella, and her cousins Cassie and Nicole. Determined not to let anything distract him from the truth―not the powerful influence of Bainbridges’ grandmother, or the political aspirations of Berkeley’s district attorney, or the interest of China’s First Lady Madame Chiang Kai-Shek in his findings―Sullivan follows his investigation to its devastating conclusion.
Chua’s page-turning debut brings to life a historical era rife with turbulent social forces and groundbreaking forensic advances, when race and class defined the very essence of power, sex, and justice, and introduces a fascinating character in Detective Sullivan, a mixed race former Army officer who is still reckoning with his own history.
Rich, twisty, and unpredictable!
The Golden Gate is a mysterious, gripping tale set in Berkeley, California, during 1944 that sees Homicide Detective Al Sullivan investigating the bizarre murder of presidential candidate Walter Wilkinson in the Claremont Hotel which, as it unfolds, also seems strangely entangled with the death of a seven-year-old girl in the same hotel ten years previous, China’s first lady Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, and a whole slew of mischief, mayhem, and long-buried secrets.
The prose is sharp and brisk. The characters are multilayered, flawed, and persistent. And the plot, including all the subplots, intertwine and unravel seamlessly into a menacing tale full of corruption, coercion, politics, racism, inequality, deduction, suspicious motivations, criminal behaviour, dangerous endeavours, familial drama, red herrings, lies, and murder.
Overall, The Golden Gate is an ominous, atmospheric, sophisticated read by Chua that I hope is only the start of what could be an entertaining series with its noir-type feel, colourful characters, abundance of action, and straight-up detective work.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to St. Martin’s Press – Minotaur Books for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.